There's plenty of coverage of the Catholic Church de-funding the Homeless Voices of Justice (HVJ) at Preble Street in Portland, Maine.  (See the main PHB post.)

Receiving too little attention are the conditions under which a social justice group must operate in order to accept Catholic funds:

2) Birth Control: The concept and activity of artificial birth control is contrary to the Catholic Church's position on the natural order and reproduction of human life as God designs it. Is your organization referring, counseling for, or administering artificial birth control devices or materials?

3) Marriage/Family Life: […] Is your organization supporting, promoting or advocating for other forms of relationships such as bisexual or homosexual/lesbian lifestyles or same-sex marriages? 

Preble Street accepted the funds in support of the Homeless Voices of Justice (HVJ), an independent group with its own board, and admin support from PS. Defined as "a state-wide social change movement, organized and led by people who have struggled with homelessness," it lists accomplishments in legal rights, housing and healthcare, and representation on policy-making bodies.

So, the church bought the silence of a state-wide grassroots advocacy group on reproductive rights and glb "lifestyles" (transgender folks aren't mentioned).

If the membership of the HVJ wanted to take on activities the Church would object to, HVJ leaders were obligated to block them. Separate budgeting and funding of unapproved activities wouldn't be tolerated by the Church, either. The commitment made by Preble Street was:

If your organization, sponsoring organizations, and funded projects can answer "no" to all the above questions, please sign and return to…

Once the all-no answers were turned in, doesn't it look like a deal had been signed with the devil? VHJ — and Preble Street — were precluded from:

  • publicizing the needs of lgb youth and pressing for new solutions or services
  • pointing out overlaps between youth/young adult homelessness, sex work, and the need for sex-inclusive health care and STI prevention
  • noting that preventing unplanned pregnancy is crucial to becoming self-sufficient and that making condoms available would be a cost-effective, compassionate option
  • bringing anti-lgbt discrimination in any shelter to the attention of the public and 
Despite Preble Street's concern for homeless lgbt youth and adults and support for marriage equality, it's possible they've felt pressure to soft-pedal their service to gays: 
  • Volunteers are expected to "treat everyone with respect" but specific non-discrimination policies are not available at its site.
  • Mark Swann, Preble Street Executive Director, was clear about serving the needs of homeless lgbt youth in a letter to Bishop Malone, but no similar mention is included on the pages describing youth services.
  • On the Teen Center page, they describe serving youth who "are at high risk for pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections," skirting a direct mention of non-straight youth. 
  • In fact, lgbt-related terms don't appear at the site: lgbt, gay, lesbian.
As eager as Catholic officials were to publish their agreement with Preble Street, it crushes what's left of their credibility as a benevolent or egalitarian force for good. Fair-minded Catholics will figure out that their donations through the church are likely to hog-tie good non-profits.
 
Non-profits need to recognize they can motivate donors by publicly shunning money with anti-gay and anti-birth control purity pledges attached. 
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Bose in St. Peter MN

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